Summary of Beyond Boredom and Anxiety

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Rating

6

Qualities

  • Innovative

Recommendation

Mihaly Csikszentmihaly presents a detailed examination of motivation based on a study of a half-dozen groups of people involved in recreational pursuits: rock climbers, composers, dancers, chess players and basketball players. He chose these groups in an effort to understand more fully what motivates people to engage in activities that are extremely challenging or offer few external rewards. Although some of his conclusions may be of interest to executives and managers seeking ways to motivate employees, most readers will find this academic study too detailed. Some of the interview comments are interesting, but much of the book describes survey results, a discussion that non-statisticians may be hard put to follow. Because of this complexity and because of the book's somewhat dense prose, getAbstract recommends this 25-year-old reissued classic primarily to scholars or to those who are intensely curious about the nuts-and-bolts of motivation. But any human resources professional or leadership specialist should have at least a passing familiarity with its concepts and contents.

About the Author

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi  , Ph.D., is a professor and former chair of the department of psychology at the University of Chicago. He is currently the Davidson Professor of Management and the director of the Quality of Life Research Center at Claremont Graduate University. He is the author of several books dealing with flow and intrinsic motivation including Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience ; Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention , and Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everything in Life .

 

Summary

The Importance of Flow

Artists enter an almost trancelike state when their work goes well, presenting a paradigm for how adults react to play and to work they enjoy. Until these studies were published in 1975, psychologists largely viewed play as a way for children to learn, practice adult behaviors and develop skills. Professional behavior scientists hadn't regarded adult recreation as a model for motivation and enjoyment.

However, play can be very satisfying and motivating to adults, too, and most work has elements of play. For instance, many people like work as much or more than they do play. Conversely, sometimes people who appear to be playing really aren't enjoying themselves. People may not enjoy what seems to be the play experience because they are so caught up by competition or in trying to maintain a certain outward impression that, inwardly, they feel only greed, anger, or frustration. But with play, some people come to truly enjoy activities that seem far from enjoyable - in fact, dangerous - such as rock climbing.

Thus, the idea for this study of intrinsic motivation was born. A team of graduate students were employed to interview people who were...


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